What books did you like to read when you were young?
I think books play such an important part in developing a kid’s interests, opinions, and dreams. It certainly influenced mine.
Sadly many kids don’t seem to enjoy reading much these days, but the same powerful influence can be said for movies and computer games. Not a very good thing, considering all the trashy films out there (Case in point: Sucker Punch. Who came out with all this crap?).
Anyway. I’m not gonna pretend I was poring through the Holy Bible or encyclopedias while I was a kid.
Actually, wait. I did read the encyclopedia. I was inspired to be as smart as Encyclopedia Brown so I got my dad to buy me an encyclopedia set. I got through 5 pages and then used the books mainly to beat up my brother when he annoyed me.
Mostly, I preferred to curl up with books that brought me to a fantasy world.
When I was 4-6, I was obsessed with Curious George.
(Source of picture here. Okay, it’s not a picture of that book, but I thought this was pretty funny)
I adored the little monkey, and dreamed of owning a mischievious monkey like him who would take me to all kinds of misadventures.
When I was 6-12, I was reading and re-reading books by Enid Blyton, although all her goody-two-shoes characters irritated me.
(Source of Picture here. “The Faraway Tree” was my favorite book…I think in a way, it still is.)
But I loved getting sucked into her imagination of wishing chairs, magical trees that led up to mystical, fantastic lands, and boarding schools with midnight feasts.
I’m super embarrassed that I ever liked these series. There was a period when I was all about girl power, and I envied the American life. Of course, now that I’m a bit wiser I realize Sweet Valley is not at all feminist-friendly, nor is it the correct portrayal of a typical American family.
But you know the best thing these books impressed upon me? They made me hungry.
One of the key reasons I loved reading these books was because they got me craving and dreaming of food. Particularly Enid Blyton. In fact, my favorite parts of the books always had food involved.
Remember when George wrecked havoc in the ice-cream store?
Even Sweet Valley got my stomach growling for the cookies and milk Jessica and Elizabeth would have after school, and of course the Babysitters Club would always have some kind of amazing American junk food during their meetings!
But Enid Blyton in particular was the master of gustatory imageries. I would read her descriptions of pop biscuits, tongue and ham sandwiches, camp fire sausages, jam cake and strawberries with cream over and over again, drool piling on each page.
The wonderful thing was that all these foods were foreign to me. Growing up in Korean and Singapore, I was mostly exposed to rice and noodles and spices. So reading these books gave me a fantasy taste of what “white people” food must be like.
You can imagine how much I really, really wanted to eat “white people” food. Not McDonald’s, but good food like the ones described in the books I read. I wanted home-baked cookies. Warm scones and butter. Meatloaf. Frozen yogurt. Lasagna.
But at the time, Singapore didn’t have the amount of “white people” food like it does now. And my mom only knew how to make kimchi and rice. So one day, when I was about 10, I decided to make my own kick-ass sandwich.
I’d read so much about PB & J sandwiches. At the time I didn’t know the “jelly” part of PB & J was really just grape jam. I thought it was some kind of special jelly that only American sold. I envisioned a mashed version of gummy bears (ew, I know).
But after reading about a picnic feast in an Enid Blyton book, I was craving sandwiches like mad. So I used what was available in the house to make a funky sandwich…
When Foodbuzz sent me a loaf of Nature’s Pride bread as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I suddenly remembered this sandwich I made a long time ago. And all of a sudden, I really craved it again.
The bread Foodbuzz sent me was a thousand times better than the bread I used then, which was Singapore’s equivalent of white Wonder Bread.
This bread from Nature’s Pride is a Hearty Wheat with Flax. Certainly healthier than the fluffy white bread I used then.
So. Time to recreate my childhood fantasy “white people” sandwich.
Get peanut butter and a ripe, sweet banana:
And get ketchup and your available version of mayonnaise:
I used a cheap generic store brand of peanut butter here, which was similar to what I used 13 years ago. But this one is chunky with a “touch” of honey in it.
Okay. Now spread one side of a slice of bread with mayo (or Miracle Whip in my case):
And then another slice with peanut butter:
And then top the peanut butter-spread slice with chopped banana:
And drizzle ketchup all over:
Top the slice with the mayo-spread bread, and make another sandwich if you want.
Now, bring out your trusty grill, and press the sandwich until it is nice and toasty.
Doesn’t it look like a perfectly normal, boring sandwich? Not so. Just take a bite. And while you’re at it, make another for your significant other and make him/her eat it without telling what is in it.
And then tell me what the reaction was.
My reaction 13 years ago was: “This is the best shit ever.” I really thought it was good!
My reaction now: “Not bad. But could use a bit of crunch. Maybe bacon…”
It really honestly isn’t that funky. Banana and peanut butter is a classic combination. The ketchup adds this sharp, interesting tang. And the mayo? Well, it goes well with the ketchup, and it makes the sandwich taste richer.
Would I make this again? Sure. It’s a nostalgic taste back to my childhood fantasies.
Because when I finally moved to America, I ended being quite disappointed with the food. I found chocolate chip cookies to be sickeningly sweet, the junk food to be subpar to Asian snacks, and traditional lasagna (Garfield’s favorite!) to get cloying after a few bites.
Now, I find myself fantasizing about all the Singaporean food I failed to appreciate while I was there. The grass is always greener on the other side, hey?
But hey, at least I always have this “white people” sandwich to remind me that I am right now living my childhood fantasy. Or should I say, childFood fantasy…
Question of the Day: Did you have a ChildFood fantasy, inspired by a book, film, etc? Is there a particular form of literary medium that makes you super hungry?
P.S. Thank you for all your support on my last post. You guys all rock, and I felt tons better.